This year I don’t plan to write any new novels. I have three manuscripts that are in different stages of editing where I want to complete the next step.
Coincidentally all three of them are old NaNoWriMo novels, which means they were written in a frenzy during one month. Therefore they need a lot of editing. I really like NaNoWriMo because it forces you to sit down and write, there is no excuses, no waiting for my muse. Every day you have to churn out the words and get on with it. Especially if you are like me who get a kick out of seeing your progress bar grow. It does mean however that once you are finished, several rounds of editing are needed to achieve some kind of coherent story.
I have not made up my mind if this method is worth it, to get words on paper. A writing frenzy resulting in quantity over quality or if it is better to have a quality first draft to work from.
What do you think? Should you take your time writing your first draft or should you sit down and pour out whatever come to the page in a shorter amount of time and then spend longer editing?
Last week I was a pouring out of my frustration with not getting enough done and always feel stressed about not doing enough, through the whole of January. Since then I took some time to reflect about the month and I now realise that it was not as bad as I felt. Yes, I didn’t get everything done and I am still behind on some things, but I have also realised that the world didn’t come to an end because I didn’t finish it. I finished the most important things every week, my weekly goal, my edits and my student reports. With that in mind, I can feel quite satisfied with the month after all. It wasn’t as bad as I first thought. Not great. But not bad. I’m still looking for a good rhythm and to catch up on all tasks to feel satisfied with my work.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed, like everything keeps stacking up against you? What do you do to make it better? Pouring my heart out in my previous blog post really helped me find a better perspective.
January was rough. It felt like everything that could go wrong or mess up did. I never found a rhythm at work and things kept piling up. It was one of those months when you wished you could add a couple of hours to every day to catch up.
The only thing I did manage to keep on top of were my WIP edits. My goal is to focus on editing three days a week and every week and I made sure that was a priority every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Something good at least. But it is difficult to find the balance between my paid work and unpaid work. In the back of my mind is always the thought that I should focus on my paid work instead. On the other hand though, I believe that you can’t just work on things you get paid for, you need to work on your creative desires as well.
Anyway, I’m hoping for a better February, for things to calm down and settle. To find a better rhythm, to catch up on all my scheduled tasks.
This year I have skipped from FIRSTS to LASTS.
My ambition was to make a list based on the days of the month 31 for January, 28 for February and so on. However as I was putting together this post I realised that is a long list and I spent too long trying to come up with stuff just to fill up the numbers.
So. My blogs, my rules, I decided to change it to a top ten list instead of struggling every month.
The lists will be as topical as I chose, it might associate with something I have done, read or experienced during the month, or it might depend on you! Because if you have any suggestions for potential future lists please leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to accommodate you.
First one out is a list over things I like about my classic book of the year, Howard’s End that I read during January.
10 Things I appreciated when reading Howard’s End
1. Writings in the margin of my second hand copy of the book
2. Reading my yearly classic
3. Discovering a new world…
4. … finding that world familiar. Description of London: ‘A block of flats, constructed with extreme cheapness, towered on either hand. Further down the road two more blocks were being built, and beyond these an old house was being demolished to accommodate another pair. It was the kind of scene that may be observed all over London, whatever the locality – bricks and mortar rising and falling with the restlessness of the water in a fountain, as the city receives more and more men upon her soil.’ (p. 59 Penguin edition).
5. Learning new words – ‘Demon of Vociferation,’ ‘spirit of persiflage’
6. Savouring the words and sentences
7. Realising that Christmas shopping and preparation hasn’t changed for a hundred years
8. Subtle twists and turns in the story – a handwritten letter is suddenly the biggest part of the story, to fade away to insignificance on the next page.
9. Seeing in to the future of women – ‘”not to work” will soon become as shocking as “not to be married”’ (p. 118 Penguin edition)
10. Getting to the end and wanting to go back to the beginning
This spring I look forward to spend more time researching my historical NaNoWriMo novel from last year (a sequel to an old historical novel). One of my aspirations this year is to make sure that I research the period and geopolitical area that I was writing about, Germany after World War II. I had started some research before November, but I had not done enough and I left big gaps in the story, or set reminders to myself to come back to later and in worst case, made stuff up.
There is a favourite spot I have at the university library I go to, where I can dig down and get in to my reading. I just need to find some good times when there isn’t anything else urgent on my to do list.
I also want to spend some time this spring to continue working on my own family research. I got quite far for a while on my mother’s side, as they were a bit connected with my research for the first part of my historical novel. I want to get back into it again. It gets very exiting when you dig through records and suddenly a name pops out and you realise that it is your great, great, great, great, great grand mother’s birth record from an old church book.
To get any meaningful research done takes time and I need at least a few hours at the time to get into it. It becomes about finding priorities in my schedule and stick to them. What are you working on this spring?
This post comes a bit later in the day than usual, it has been one crazy start to the new year. Therefore it feels extra calming and relaxing to sit down and take the time to finalise my aspirations for the year.
Last year I decided to set new year’s aspirations instead of resolutions, it might not be a big difference in the words, but for me, the mental difference of an aspiration instead of resolution makes it easier for me to reach my goals.
So here they are, aspirations for the new year:
During NaNoWriMo last November, I wrote a sequel to my historical novel and this year I plan to straighten out the many historical inaccuracies I added in the writing frenzy, I also need to fill in some gaps in the story.
I don’t plan to write anything new this year (except for NaNoWriMo in November), but I have three manuscripts in different stages of editing that I want to finish the next stage of editing on during this year.
I hope to read more this year. Last year I didn’t take as much time as I wanted to read books and magazines. Often I choose to sit on my phone or computer and watch Netflix or Youtube. This year I plan to make a conscious decision to get away from the screen and back to books.
I plan to grow my gymnastics business further this year too and I will spend time focusing on this. It does mean that I will have to take time from my creative writing, it’s about finding a good balance between my coaching job, which I love and pays the bills and my creative writing projects that not yet pay the bills.
I plan to continue my daily training, keep up with my walks (at least 30 minutes every day), I also plan to add some yoga exercises every other day when I’m not running.
Five well rounded aspirations that will set me off on to a good year.
Happy New Year Everyone
Last year I was writing my FIRSTS on the 1st of every month. This year I will make lists at the end of the month, corresponding to the number of days in the month.
Look out for my January list on the 31st.
I will see you in the new year.
At the end of the year, I like to look back at the goals (aspirations) I set in the beginning of the year and also any changes I have made to them over the year and additions I have made.
Throughout the year I have had to make some changes specifically to my writing goals when I had to make some changes to my professional life, which had an impact on my writing time. It has also had some impact on how much energy I have had at the end of the day to do any creative writing.
For the new year I want to work on this balance. To make sure that even though I have trouble in my professional life, I must keep writing and be creative because I know I feel happier if I am creative.
It is about shifting priorities and making choices. Next year, I want to make sure that I always have my priorities straight and that I am going in the direction that I want to.
It was a challenging year for NaNoWriMo. I liked the premises of my novel and I was excited to finally get to write the second installment of my historical novel. However, I knew setting off that I hadn’t done enough research to write a historically accurate novel, but I did my best and got a novel at the end of it. Not great, but it is a first draft. I can now spend the spring filling in the gaps in my knowledge about the era and make any changes necessary.
I have a plan.
NaNoLondon was awesome as always. It is a truly amazing experience to work with so many other people and create something together. I know I have said it before, I probably hark on about it very year, but it is so true and make it a truly amazing experience. I didn’t make it to as many write-ins as I normally do, but that’s because my computer is a bit tired and it needs to be plugged in all the time, which doesn’t always work at all the write-ins.
Now the year is winding down and I will spend the next couple of weeks making sure that I have done everything I can to make sure that I have reached my goals and then set out a plan for next year. I like this time of the year (I love planning) I like the anticipation of the new year of all the possibilities. The slate is clean and ready to be filled in to shape my future.